IMMAF confirms that fighters’ “pro” status stymied event, promises a global change in reporting

Team Malaysia at IMMAF World Championships
Team Malaysia at IMMAF World Championships

During the UFC Fight Week of 2014, the International MMA Federation (IMMAF) held the first amateur world championships with teams selected from all over the world.

MMA-in-ASIA began covering Southeast Asia’s only team to compete, Team Malaysia, when they headed to Las Vegas, USA on the week of the event. As a part of our coverage, we learned that the IMMAF had questioned several of the team’s members listed professional records.

The Malaysia MMA Association (MASMMAA) – a recent formation of the Malaysia Sports Ministry and thus an official government regulatory body – reviewed the bouts in question and took an official position that none of them met the criteria for professional matches. The IMMAF agreed. MMA-in-ASIA reported all parties’ statements here.

Later it was told to MAM-in-ASIA that one individual directly contacted the Nevada State Athletic Commission regarding the Malaysian fighters’ record specifically, which launched an investigation of the participating athletes from 30 countries.

Many athletes were disqualified as a result of the investigation, including many of whom legitimately held pro fights on their resumes. However Malaysian team member Allen Solomon Chong – with no professional fights on his record – was ruled ineligible because of his participation on the UFC’s venture into China with The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) television show. Chong was denied entry into the tournament only after his difficult weigh ins.

To engage in hindsight as a factor in development, the following statement by the IMMAF was released.

The IMMAF official statement on the matter:

“Many people have asked us about pro vs. amateur records in connection with the IMMAF World Championships, here is a reply from our Secretary General Erika Mattsson:”

We had a great deal of problems with amateurs being listed as professionals, mainly for non US athletes. What we have uncovered is that if you have competed as an amateur in an amateur tournament/promotion or a mixed promotion outside of the USA, for the most part major record keepers will falsely report it as professional.

We had 30 athletes flagged and audited all of them, in the end a few had to leave the tournament which was communicated with their federations. Given that the standards are different in different countries these federations mostly sent the athletes in good faith and the reason they had to leave the tournament was that the amateur system in their countries was more advanced and violated IMMAF rules and/or NSAC rules. The great majority however were cleared because we could find evidence of their amateur status (films, rule sets, letters from promoters etc.)

The IMMAF is very concerned with the way in which private record companies publish information without any verification – in many cases we haven’t been able to find one single party that has communicated with the official US record company (athlete, promotion, manager, federation) and yet they still post information without any actual report, and often false information. Often there are also other mistakes – name, nationality, height, weight etc. The

IMMAF is already working on establishing standards for the progression within the sport and definitions on the different levels. Due to these problems that have been uncovered, we will also launch a committee to investigate global standards for the protection of athletes’ rights in regards to public records, and we will contact all major record companies for a discussion.